SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down Safely –Next Up: Manned Missions



The landmark space mission for commercial spaceflight ended at 15.42 UTC yesterday when the Dragon capsule slipped into the Pacific Ocean, 80 kilometres off Baja California, proving that uncrewed cargo vessels sent to the ISS can be recovered and reused. The Dragon made by SpaceX Corp, is the first commercial spacecraft ever to have docked with the International Space Station (ISS).

The successful mission will trigger a series of 12 cargo missions NASA has ordered from SpaceX and will boost the company's efforts to make its space craft suitable for crewed missions. The next cargo mission for NASA is set for September.

"If someone had stowed away on Dragon, they would have been okay,"  said SpaceX founder, Elon Musk. "We could have taken people to and from the space station with the cargo version of Dragon. That's important to appreciate and I think a lot of people don't realize it."

Dragon 2, which will be built to accommodate astronauts, will have a much more gentle landing system, using propulsive thrusters to hover above and touch down on dry land with the accuracy of a helicopter.

"I think that's really cool — it's how spaceships land in sci fi movies," Musk said. Such a landing system would also let Dragon land eslewhere in the solar system with thin or nonexistent atmospheres. Musk expects it to be operational in about 3 years if things go well, or up to 5 years if they "encounter some challenges along the way."

The Daily Galaxy via SpaceX and NASA

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